They dawdled over their food a little longer—after all, everyone had to finish their dessert and no one had a ton of work due the next day—but finally headed back outside and toward Gilkey. Corrie checked her phone and was surprised to find that it was almost ten; time had passed quickly while she hung out with her friends.
She was even more surprised, as they approached Gilkey, to see Roe pacing back and forth in front of the door. She was easily recognizable even from a distance in the dark, because the light over the front door and coming out from the window in the common room shone off her long, pale hair.
Corrie was about to ask Roe whether she’d forgotten her ID card or Link was late to meet her when she realized she had her phone pressed to her ear. She started speaking, her face pinched with anger, but Corrie couldn’t hear what she was saying until the whole group slowed down, not wanting to push past Roe to get to the door.
“…have to actually show you’re sorry,” Roe hissed into the phone. Was that Link? What had he done to make her so angry?
She was quiet as she paced a little more, but her face grew even more pinched. Obviously, whoever she was talking to was saying something she didn’t like.
“Fine,” she said, her voice chilling. “Maybe it’s better that we don’t talk for a couple of days anyway. Take a little bit of a break.” She took the phone away from her ear and made a throwing motion, but appeared to think better of it, since the phone stayed in her hand.
“Roe?” Annie asked tentatively. “Was that Link? Are you okay?”
Roe turned with a jerk and stared at them as though she hadn’t realized they were there—and maybe she hadn’t. “I…” Her face crumpled. “No, everything’s not okay. I don’t know what’s going on with him and he won’t tell me.”
“Let’s get inside,” Edie said. “Come on, Roe.” She unlocked the door and held it open for the other three. They instinctively surrounded Roe as they walked through the hall and up the stairs, shielding her from anyone who might walk past and want to see her.
“Let’s go to your room, Edie,” Roe said as they reached the top of the stairs. “I’ll tell you what happened. I don’t want anyone else to overhear it.”
“Sure,” Edie said, glancing at Corrie. Corrie nodded. How could she refuse a friend in distress, even if she ever minded having people over to their room?
They didn’t pass anyone in the hall, and got themselves in Corrie and Edie’s room. Edie handed Roe a box of tissues, and Roe sat down on Edie’s bed and blew her nose a couple of times before speaking.
“You guys know that Link is graduating at the end of the year,” Roe said, her voice thick. Corrie nodded—she’d already wondered if that was the source of the strife between Roe and Link, who seemed so happy together.
“Isn’t he going to be sticking around to watch over Troy?” Edie asked.
Roe shrugged. “He doesn’t know yet. They’ll go home over the summer and he’ll get his orders. We can write to each other while he’s there, but I probably wouldn’t know for a couple of months whether he’s coming back at all.”
Corrie nodded again, encouraging Roe to go on. Had one of them suggested breaking up and the other didn’t want to unless they had to? That didn’t seem to fit with the last thing that she’d heard Roe say on the phone, like taking a break was a punishment for both of them.
“But he wants me to come back there with them. He could do the magic so that I would have a Djanaea form, too. I would probably be able to learn to do it. And I agreed to visit, but apparently Troy’s dad, the king, isn’t really happy about having a human over just for a visit, even though Troy explained to him that he has several friends who already know all about them and I wouldn’t be any more of a threat than I already am.” Roe gulped and dabbed at her eyes with a tissue. “So on Saturday, Link asked me to marry him.”
Edie gasped. Corrie stared at her, then at Annie, not wanting to stare at Roe. “Wow,” she managed. Was that a good thing or a bad thing? Obviously, Roe hadn’t enthusiastically agreed—or had she, but they’d been shot down again by the king?
“That’s a really big deal,” Annie said, looking back at Roe.
Roe nodded. “I told him I would have to think about it. I’m only eighteen, you know? And I have three more years of college left to go. We’ve only been dating for six months. I love him, but I don’t think I’m ready to make a big decision like that.” She took a deep breath. “He got mad. He said he is ready, and he doesn’t see why I shouldn’t be. So we didn’t really know where to go from there.”